CONCORD, N.C. -- Defending Chili Bowl champion Kyle Larson is ready to reclaim his title. The 28-year-old driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE won last year’s event and is preparing to race for a possible second championship in a row after he won his A-main race Tuesday night.
Larson also finished first his heat and his qualifying race on Tuesday, locking him in to the Chili Bowl Nationals main event on Saturday.
For Larson, the Chili Bowl is a great way for him to prepare for the upcoming NASCAR Cup Series season. Even though the cars, tracks and venues are completely different, Larson’s Chili Bowl participation is what get’s him hyped for the upcoming year.
“Chili Bowl gets me excited for the Cup season because as soon as Chili Bowl is done, as soon as the checkered flag waves, my mindset fully switches to NASCAR stuff,” Larson said. “I know going to (the) Chili Bowl, that’s the last think I get to do before we get down to business and get going for the NASCAR stuff.”
Larson has won four A-main events in a row and seven times over the past 10 years at the Chili Bowl. With his dirt track background, Larson said he wants to help teammates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman throughout the week.
“I look forward to talking to Chase a bit,” Larson said. “Obviously, I got a lot of experience in dirt, open-wheeled cars and he’s got zero. I want to see him do a good job, I want to see him have a lot of fun, so I look forward to helping him as much as I can, as well as Alex. He only runs, really, the Chili Bowl every year, so you’re getting to be teammates with him now on the NASCAR side of things and getting to be closer with them.”
Larson said one of the best parts of the Chili Bowl is how it’s a one-of-a-kind event. Drivers from all different backgrounds, whether it’s NASCAR drivers, dirt racers and IndyCar drivers all flock to the Tulsa, Oklahoma, races for pure entertainment.
“People who’ve never raced before in their lives and just want to experience what the Chili Bowl is like and (to) go and race,” Larson said. “It’s just a unique event and a week of hanging out with your friends and awesome racing.”